Cost is still keeping districts from boosting broadband speeds

Cost remains the biggest hurdle for schools trying to increase broadband connectivity speeds for students, according to CoSN’s 2017 Annual Infrastructure Survey.

The majority of school districts–85 percent, to be exact–meet the Federal Communications Commission’s short-term goal for broadband connectivity of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students, according to the survey.

The survey collected feedback from 445 large, small, urban, and rural school district leaders nationwide and examines the current state of technology infrastructure in U.S. K-12 districts.…Read More

How is the E-rate impacting learning?

In the beginning, E-rate focused principally on telephone service, which was the most basic and universal way individuals communicated 20 years ago. While the focus on communication has remained, technology has changed radically throughout the past two decades. During this period, E-rate adapted by broadening the range of eligible services to include mobile phones, pagers, voicemail, email, school websites and basic collaboration tools.

As the program evolved, the definition of “new technology” grew increasingly inexact and complicated. It became clear that E-rate was in need of a refresh. Advocates for change, including legislators, the Federal Communications Commission and organizations such as ISTE and the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), hoped to address the question: How do we increase internet bandwidth available to our schools and provide ubiquitous wireless coverage?

Practical questions to ask

To answer this question, we needed to both increase E-rate funding and stretch every dollar. In an effort to make dollars go further, three main objectives were identified:…Read More

These schools are leveraging E-Rate for a complete digital transformation

Textbooks and blackboards have become a thing of the past in K-12 schools as educators collaborate with IT teams to shape a full digital core curriculum as part of their educational strategy for 2017 and beyond. In a 2016 survey conducted by the Consortium for School Networking (COSN), 90 percent of IT administrators at K-12 schools expect that curricula will be at least 50 percent digital over the next three years.

As the world undergoes a digital transformation—with connectivity and access to computers and mobile devices playing an increasingly prominent role in everyone’s lives—elementary schools know they need to incorporate technology in the educational process to prepare their students for future success. To support these initiatives, the Federal Communications Commission’s E-rate program has recently been expanded to provide schools nationwide with subsidies for high-speed broadband and gigabit wireless networks.

According to the “2016 Digital Curriculum Strategy Survey Report” sponsored by Ruckus Wireless, hardware and network spend is estimated at $16.2 billion in 2017. Whereas currently 78 percent of students have device and network access for almost a full day, the expectation for this year is that schools will have close to one-to-one access, or one device per student.…Read More

5 infrastructure concerns for district technology leaders

The growing need for more internet bandwidth is being pushed by an increase in the number of students with devices, according to CoSN’s Annual Infrastructure Survey.

Increases in online assessments and digital content also drive the need for higher bandwidth, according to the report.

The report addresses key areas of concern for school districts, including affordability, network speed and capacity, reliability and competition, digital equity, security, and cloud-based services.…Read More

Why making, coding, and online learning are the real trends to watch

Take a casual flip through this year’s trend-predicting Horizon Report, released today, and you’ll find plenty to get excited about.

The end of the report is stuffed with tantalizing promise about how future learners will engage with robots, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and wearable tech (think data-collecting headbands and skill-tracking sensors) that could explode into classrooms in as little as four to five years. By contrast, the report’s short-term developments, online learning and makerspaces, have a distinct yesterday’s news vibe about them. But make no mistake, they still hold some of the biggest long-term promise in the report.

Evaluating the accuracy of a report as sprawling and far-reaching as this one is notoriously difficult. Each year, a panel of education experts, convened by the New Media Consortium and CoSN, takes a deep dive into the trends driving ed-tech in every quarter, from Silicon Valley testing grounds to policy circles to actual classroom use. Panelists then narrow them down to just 18 in various stages of gestation: six trends, six challenges, and six so-called important developments.…Read More

What’s next in ed-tech? These 18 trends

I do a lot of speaking about technology trends in education, and none of my talks seem to get larger audiences than those that address new or emerging technologies. Part of this is our never ending interest in what is “new,” and also that little voice in my head that says, “maybe I am falling behind.”

So, as an educator interested in technology — after all, you are reading eSchool News — what is the best source for tracking emerging technologies for learning? And, even more important, which of these emerging technologies address the chief problems you are trying to solve in your school or school district?

The answer to the first question is easy. Each year the New Media Consortium (NMC) and CoSN—the Consortium for School Networking — jointly create the Horizon Report. Produced with the insights of an international panel of experts, and with nearly one million downloads per year, this report on emerging technologies for learning is likely the most well-read report identifying key technology trends for primary and secondary education. (The 2016 Report is made possible by Share Fair Nation at go.nmc.org/2016-k12). This comprehensive report helps education leaders and practitioners develop future-focused digital strategies and learning approaches that mirror the needs and skills of the real world.…Read More

Most districts are doing nothing about the homework gap; a few are making a big difference

3 out of 4 districts have little plan for providing off-campus internet. But there are solutions, and some districts are leading the charge

The growing ubiquity of internet access and pervasive use of online information has changed the learning landscape forever. Students continue to benefit from enhanced connectivity throughout the formal school day thanks to a $1.5 billion increase in E-rate funding over the last 18 months. However, demand and expectations for learning outside of the school day are on the rise — and there are still many students struggling to complete homework online.

It is estimated that 5 million households with school-age children do not have high-speed internet service at home. Low-income households, especially Black and Hispanic households, make up a disproportionate share of that 5 million.[1] The under-connection of low-income families is a real issue. Clearly, there is a great deal of work that needs to be done to narrow the inequitable homework gap.

This issue constitutes a new civil right; the right to digital equity; the right to connect to needed resources — anywhere, anytime. This is a civil right that cannot be achieved by school leaders alone. A holistic approach will ensure that school-aged children aren’t reduced to little or no access. It calls for community leadership — connected and collaborative leadership.…Read More

Meet the next generation of school ed-tech leaders

CoSN and EdScoop announce inaugural winners at CoSN 2016 annual conference

CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) and EdScoop have unveiled the winners of the NextGeneration Leaders Program, a new national initiative that recognizes emerging K-12 education technology leaders.

Chosen among 29 finalists from across the country, the 2016 NextGeneration Leaders are:
• Michele Eaton, CETL, Director of Virtual and Blended Learning, Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township (Indianapolis, IN)
• Travis Eldridge, Technology Integration Specialist, Laramie County School District #1
(Cheyenne, WY)
• Roshni Lakhi, Blended Learning Specialist, Highlander Institute (Providence, RI)
• Andrew Neiburg, Instructional Technology Resource Teacher, Henrico County Public Schools (Henrico, VA)
• Nathan White, CETL, IT Operations Manager, Elmore County Public Schools (Wetumpka, AL)

The ed-tech leaders were honored in a ceremony at the CoSN 2016 Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. The NextGeneration Leaders Program is co-sponsored by EdScoop with support from Microsoft.…Read More

Why we must address digital equity right now

Digital equity remains a troubling issue with far-reaching consequences

digital-equityDigital learning is reaching a tipping point.

Thanks to E-rate, as well as other state and local policy efforts, the education community has largely achieved the original 1997 goal of connecting every classroom to the internet. Even better, last year’s 60-percent increase ($1.5 billion more annually) in E-rate funding means that over the next few years, classroom connections will be broadband with robust wi-fi – an essential requirement for 21st century learning.

Ensuring every student and teacher has a learning device remains a challenge, but lower cost and increased availability by school or by family would reduce it moving forward. This is positive news for building the infrastructure for digital learning.…Read More

What are IT leaders worried about? Assessment readiness and money

A CoSN survey reveals CTO concerns about privacy, budgets, and assessment readiness

leardership-cosnFor the past three years, CoSN—the Consortium for School Networking—has conducted the K-12 IT Leadership Survey seeking to identify major trends and challenges, and provide a picture of these leaders.

What are the key technology trends in education according to leadership in our school systems? What do the data tell us?

Assessment readiness is again the No. 1 priority for IT Leaders. The growing imperative about being assessment ready isn’t likely a surprise for those living in states adopting the Common Core. However, regardless of where you live, all states are increasingly moving their high-stakes assessments online. And, they are doing it quickly.…Read More